Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in online schooling but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Anjilee Ferguson and Sara Busalacchi, Owner of Mountain Point Academy, located in Lehi, UT, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Mountain Point Academy (MPA) is an online private school serving grades 6-12, specializing in working with students either at home or in a residential treatment center (RTC) setting. We are known for providing students with a 1:1 academic experience where they have a mentor to guide them week by week through their studies and help them as they work to achieve their goals. Our team goes above and beyond to help with the personalization of each individual student's academic plan. It's not a one size fits all option for students, so we take the time to learn about what each student's learning style is and what their goals are and work to customize a path that makes sense for that student. We care about the individual, not just the numbers. Depending on student needs, we have several tiered schooling options ranging from part-time to full-time, less or more support, and options for additional tutoring. As one parent eloquently stated, "MPA's virtual learning did not equate to disconnected learning," which is something we are very proud of. Our team works tirelessly each day to ensure that students have the best academic experience possible.
Tell us about yourself
Mountain Point Academy was formed in the kitchen of a Lehi, Utah, home in December of 2017 with the hope of cultivating a culture of respect, self-worth, and accomplishment for both students and faculty. We both had worked in online education for a decade. We saw how things were done at other schools and decided we could start our own, based on the idea that fostering relationships and giving individualized attention to students would equate to connected learning in an online environment. When we founded the school, we used our own funds to get up and going, so we were very personally invested from the start. We found an amazing network of people to be on our Board of Advisors who helped us with the accreditation process, and we got accredited in January 2020. Since then, we have been working to continually improve the service we provide to students, hoping to foster an attitude of lifelong learning in them. For us, the reward is seeing students succeed and learn to believe in themselves!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
To be a successful online school, accreditation is a "stamp of approval" for parents to know they are sending their child to a school where their student's hard work will pay off and be recognized by other schools, so that was the top priority for us as we started the business. We worked tirelessly for the first year and a half to become accredited through Cognia. To date, that is the thing we are most proud of as business owners.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Being a business owner is challenging in many ways, but setting boundaries is the biggest challenge. It can be so easy to just jump on the computer and work late into the night without taking into account work/life balance. So learning how to manage that has been a big challenge for both of us to overcome.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
First, start with processes...make sure those are all set so that as you grow, it is scaleable and easier for you to manage the growth. Secondly, hire before you think you are ready. As you are able to delegate tasks, it frees up your time to focus on growth/strategy/marketing. Lastly, use the network of people at your disposal. Chances are someone in your personal network is an expert in something that will help you run, start, or grow your business.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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